The Shop in the Middle of Nowhere: Tyler, Pa. - BodyShop Business

The Shop in the Middle of Nowhere: Tyler, Pa.

Cataldo's Collision Service

Name: Cataldo’s Collision Service
Location: Tyler, Pa.
Owner: Carney Cataldo
Established: 1982
Square Footage: 8,000 square feet
Number of Employees: 9
Average Repair Volume: 75 vehicles per month
Average Repair Ticket: $1,500

If you crash your car in a town as remote as Tyler, Pa., you’d be lucky to find a gas station within 10 miles. The tiny town is so quiet it’s not unusual for Carney Cataldo, owner of Cataldo’s Collision Service, to look outside his window and find elk gently grazing on his front lawn.

The local wildlife also frequently wanders out into the road, so Cataldo’s Collision Service has certainly had its share of cars that have had run-ins with deer, elk, turkeys and even bears.

The remote location, says Cataldo, has been good for his business.

“Sure, we could move [to one of the larger towns around us], but then we’d lose our valued customers because they’d be too far away,” he says. “We’re centrally located right where we are.”

Cataldo not only intends to remain at the rural location, he’s planning two additions to the shop he built himself in 1984.

But his love of collision repair began a lot earlier than that. His father owned a small two-stall garage, and Cataldo says he helped his dad fix cars “as soon as I was old enough to walk.” He studied to be a mechanic at his county’s vo-tech school and after graduation, he began working on cars at different garages by day, while patching up and painting cars during the evening and weekends.

“I really started liking collision repair more than mechanical repair when I saw the attention I got after I would re-paint a car,” says Cataldo. “When I would put a new motor in a car, no one would notice anything and just drive off!”

Customers Notice Cataldo’s
These days, it’s the shop’s excellent customer service that’s getting everyone’s attention. The neighborly atmosphere helps customers trust their cars to the technicians. Most of the time, if the customer is new or is apprehensive about leaving his brand-new cherry-red baby, Cataldo will introduce him to the tech who’ll be working on the car. Customers are also free to come in to see the progress of their cars’ repairs. But Cataldo says he has to forewarn them of the car’s catastrophic appearance.

“I always have to reassure them we know how to weld everything back together,” says Cataldo. “It’s always a shock [for customers] to see it in the middle of the repair process.”

Cataldo takes customer service a step further and will pick-up or deliver a vehicle if necessary and will stay open late any night to finish a repair. The shop’s phone system is even wired to Cataldo’s home a few miles away. If a customer calls with an after-hours emergency and the phone’s voice mail picks up, the call will go to another tech’s phone. It’s kind of like a collision repair phone chain. (Cataldo is used to being ready for action in a hurry; he and some of his employees are volunteer firemen.)

The shop also does emergency repairs to the town’s fire units, ambulances and police cruisers involved in accidents.

DRP = Efficiency
Another way Cataldo contributes to customer satisfaction is through direct-repair programs (DRPs). Cataldo says he definitely sees more efficiency and faster turnaround with DRPs, which ultimately make for happier customers.

But he does admit there are challenges to being on DRPs. Besides doing quality work in a timely manner, he advises anyone considering DRPs to “make sure you dot your I’s and cross your T’s. Make friends with your insurance companies and make sure they know your shop’s capable of putting a car back to pre-accident condition.”

Overcoming Challenges
The shop’s overwhelming workflow is a challenge. To correct it, Cataldo has planned two additions to streamline production: A larger office with three more computers will help at the estimating and management end, while a new paint booth, prep deck and paint department will smooth out the bottleneck in the paint area.

“Once we replace that tin box we currently use as a paint booth, we’ll be set!” says Cataldo. “But even with the outdated booth we use now, my painter is about 200 percent efficient.”

Cataldo knows he’s lucky to have such a talented staff since employees are certainly hard to come by in Tyler.

“Technicians are about as easy to find as a needle in a haystack around here!” he says. “There just aren’t any, and they’re aren’t any good area trade schools training them either.”

Fortunately, most of Cataldo’s staff have been there for awhile and plan to stick around for the long run. They’re a tight-knit group who does a lot together aside from just work. And Cataldo doesn’t like to think of himself as the shop’s monarch of collision repair. Rather, he spreads out titles and responsibilities so everyone’s equal.

“I’m an only child so I can’t have a family-owned business,” he says. “Instead, I make my employees part of my family.”

Fired Up for Collision Repair
The shop’s location has also saved Cataldo from dealing with a lot of the industry issues that plague larger, more urban shops, like tech shortages and consolidation.

With those problems out of the way, Cataldo can look to the future more clearly, hoping someday to open a second location. He also wants to have some children, so they can take over his beloved business when he retires. (Of course, that’s not the only reason he wants children!)

But for now, Cataldo is happy fighting fires – whether they’re the real thing or the occasional flare-ups at the shop.

Writer Amanda Paskiet is associate editor of BodyShop Business.

Equipped for Success

Cataldo uses this equipment to keep business booming in his tiny town:

  • Lifts: Two Rotary (short-rise) lifts, one Hunter wheel alignment.
  • Straightening system: Chief EZ Liner S21, Chief EZ Liner Classic, Chief Streamliner.
  • Measuring system: Chief Genesis, Chief Velocity.
  • Paint and paint-mixing system: Sikkens.
  • Estimating system: CCC Pathways.
  • Management system: CRMS Akzo Nobel.

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